July 28 - August 6, 2024
Established in October 2007, Germany Close Up – American Jews Meet Modern Germany is an initiative created to enrich transatlantic dialogue and provide young Jewish American emerging leaders up to age 39 with an opportunity to experience modern Germany up close and personally. A generous government scholarship (a part of the ERP Special Assets of the German Ministry for Economics and Technology) covers more than two-thirds of participation costs.
The German Academic Exchange (DAAD), in cooperation with Classrooms Without Borders (CWB), has designed the Germany Close Up (GCU) seminar for young Jewish Professionals. Established in October 2007, Germany Close Up was an initiative to provide young American Jews the opportunity to meet modern Germany and enrich transatlantic dialogue. It offers an opportunity to experience modern Germany up close and personally.
The Program aims to allow participants to gain their perspective on Germany through individual experience. The seminar outlines many facets of modern Germany, focusing on the past and present. Every GCU seminar entails many activities, tours, and meetings. Participants will meet German opinion makers from academic life, voices across the political spectrum, representatives of grassroots movements, and German peers. The seminar covers Germany's past and its efforts to deal with the memory of the Holocaust and the Nazi terror. Participants will also examine Germany's transformation in the last 70 years and its steps to become a modern, reunified, and democratic country in the heart of the European Union, home to the third-fastest growing Jewish community worldwide.
The Program will focus on the following topics:
- Berlin and United Germany
- The Holocaust and the Nazi Era, including a visit to a former concentration camp
- Transatlantic/German-American relations (including a meeting with officials of the German Foreign Office)
- Jewish Berlin, past and present (including the integration of new members of the Jewish community)
- German-Israeli relations
- A visit to Munich and Nuremberg
A generous government scholarship (part of the ERP Special Assets of the German Ministry for Economics and Technology) covers more than two-thirds of the participant fees. The participants will pay their participation fee indirectly to GCU by purchasing their individual roundtrip airline tickets. After acceptance into the Program, participants will be responsible for booking airline economy class tickets. A receipt will need to be provided to the DAAD office after completion of the seminar.
- Apply to Classrooms Without Borders
- Apply to DAAD
- Day 1: Introduction Individual Arrival in Berlin and Transfer to the Hotel For participants who arrive early: Boat Tour (optional) Guided Tour of the Pergamon Museum (optional) The Pergamon Museum is situated in Berlin's 'Museum Island'. The site was designed by Alfred Messel and Ludwig Hoffmann and was constructed over the 20-year period from 1910 to 1930. The Pergamon houses original-sized, reconstructed monumental buildings such as the Pergamon Altar and the Market Gate of Miletus, all consisting of original parts transported from Turkey. There is controversy over the legitimacy of the acquisition of the collection with it being suggested that the collection should be returned to Turkey. The museum is subdivided into the antiquity collection, the Middle East museum, and the museum of Islamic art. - Program officially starts – Q & A Session With Kathleen Gransow and Germany Close Up Staff Welcome Dinner
- Day 2: Orientation in Berlin Berlin City Bus Tour including a Visit to Bayerischer Platz Bayerischer Platz at the center of the Bavarian Quarter has now also become synonymous with a memorial located on this site. In 1993, the artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schock erected the memorial in remembrance of the Jewish residents of the quarter murdered by the Nazis. The memorial is made up of 80 lamp posts with double sided placards showing a picture on one side and a text excerpt from Nazi legislation demonstrating the successive legal discrimination of Jews on the other. Tour of the German Historical Museum With Mark-Alexander Brysch The German Historical Museum was founded on October 28, 1987 on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of the founding of the city of Berlin. The mission of the museum is to present German history in an international context. The permanent exhibition German History in Images and Artifacts is housed in the Zeughaus on a surface area of 8,000 square meters. The four floors of the I.M. Pei Exhibition Hall are devoted to the Museum's temporary exhibitions. The special exhibition Hitler and the Germans. Nation and Crime was on display from October 15, 2010 to February 27, 2011. With more than 265,000 visitors, it was the most successful temporary exhibition ever to be held by the museum. ""Empty Space? Don't Trust the Green Grass!"" - A Walking Tour of Jewish Berlin-Mitte With Dr. Dagmar Pruin, Executive Director, Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste, Program Director, Germany Close Up
- Day 3: Remembrance & Beyond Meet in the hotel lobby ready for departure Guided Tour of the Holocaust Memorial including a Visit to the Information Center The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe in the center of Berlin is Germany's central Holocaust memorial site, a place for remembrance and commemoration of the six million victims. The Memorial consists of the Field of Stelae designed by architect Peter Eisenman and the underground Information Center. It is maintained by a Federal Foundation. Departure from Berlin / Lunch boxes will be provided Guided Tour of the Memorial and Museum at the Former Concentration Camp Sachsenhausen This concentration camp was used primarily for political prisoners from 1936 to the end of the Third Reich in May 1945. Nazi-German concentration camps were different from extermination or death camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau or Treblinka. Concentration camps were mostly intended as places of incarceration and forced labor for a variety of ""enemies of the state"" - the Nazi label for people they deemed undesirable. In the early years of the Shoah; Jews were primarily sent to concentration camps, but from 1942 onward they were mostly deported to extermination camps in Eastern Europe most located in occupied Poland. After World War II, when Oranienburg was in the Soviet Occupation Zone, the concentration camp was used as an NKVD special camp. The remaining buildings and grounds are now open to the public as a museum and memorial. Group Discussion With Kathleen Gransow
- Day 4: Political Germany in a Nutshell Introduction to Action Reconciliation Service for Peace With Magdalena Scharf Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) was founded in 1958 by German Protestant Christians as a sign of peace and atonement following the Shoah and the Second World War. Since then, the organization has been committed towards working towards these aims, in particular through work fighting racism, discrimination, and social exclusion. Today, these aims are continued and realized through the long-term international peace service program. Every year around 180 volunteers, mostly aged between nineteen and twenty five, take part in a year long placement in one of thirteen different countries where they work on a variety of educational, historical, political and social projects. Meeting with Nikola Gillhoff, Deputy Special Representative for Relations with Jewish Organizations at the German Federal Foreign Office Meeting with Karsten D. Voigt, Former Member of the Bundestag Dinner with Young Germans
- Day 5: Jewish Timelines Visit to Track 17 The Station Berlin Grunewald opened on August 1, 1879. Starting on October 18, 1941 and lasting until February 1945, the adjacent goods station was one of the major sites of deportation of the Berlin Jews. The trains left mainly for the ghettos of Litzmannstadt and Warsaw, from 1942 directly for the Auschwitz and Theresienstadt concentration camps. On October 18, 1991 a monument was inaugurated at the ramp leading to the former freight yard. The Deutsche Bahn had a memorial established on January 27, 1998 at the historic track 17 (""Gleis 17""), where most of the deportation trains departed. A Guided Tour of the Wannsee Villa (optional) The Wannsee Conference was a meeting of senior officials of the Nazi German regime, held in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee on 20 January 1942. The purpose of the conference was to inform administrative leaders of Departments responsible for various policies relating to Jews, that Reinhard Heydrich had been appointed as the chief executor of the ""Final solution to the Jewish question"". In the course of the meeting, Heydrich presented a plan, presumably approved by Adolf Hitler, for the deportation of the Jewish population of Europe and French North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) to German-occupied areas in eastern Europe, and the use of the Jews fit for labor on road-building projects, in the course of which they would eventually die according to the text of the Wannsee Protocol, the surviving remnant to be annihilated after completion of the projects. Instead, as Soviet and Allied forces gradually pushed back the German lines, most of the Jews of German-occupied Europe were sent to extermination or concentration camps, or killed where they lived. As a result of the efforts of historian Joseph Wulf, the Wannsee House, where the conference was held, is now a Holocaust Memorial. Guided Tour of the Jewish Museum With Marc Wrasse The Jewish Museum Berlin covers two millennia of German Jewish history. World renowned architect Daniel Libeskind designed the museum, which opened to the public in 2001. The museum was one of the first buildings designed after German reunification. Services (optional) The Fraenkelufer Synagogue in the Berlin neighborhood of Kreuzberg was originally built between 1913 and 1916 as an orthodox synagogue. The main part of this synagogue was heavily damaged during Kristallnacht on November 9th, 1938, and further damaged in 1944. In 1958/59, those structures still remaining from the main synagogue were torn down. Today, only one of the neighboring buildings still exists. This building was once used for youth services and was later converted into the main synagogue. Currently, the synagogue hosts a conservative community. Dinner with the Congregation
- Shabbat: Shabbat friendly day: German Society Today Shabbat services (optional) Orthodox service Conservative/Masorti service Meeting with Eldad Beck, Germany and Europe Correspondent for the Israeli Daily Newspaper Yediot Aharonot Panel Discussion: Jewish Life in Modern Germany Panelists: Jonathan Marcus, Chairman of Limmud Germany Michelle Piccirillo, Founder of Young and Jewish Tal Alon, Spitz Magazine Oleg Pronitschew, Director of the Jewish Student Union in Germany Discussion: Initiatives for Democracy in Modern German Society
- Day 7: Nuremberg Travel and Arrival in Nuremberg Guided Tour of the Memorial Nuremberg Trials
- Day 8: Nuremberg and Munich Walking Tour of Nuremberg Nuremberg is a middle sized city located in the north of the German state of Bavaria. The first official record of the city dates back to 1050, with the city being noted as the site of an imperial castle. During the Middle Ages, Nuremberg Castle was a regular meeting point of the Holy Roman Empire causing the city to often be referred to as the 'unofficial capital' of the Holy Roman Empire. In the 15th and 16th centuries the city had a rich cultural scene that made it the center of the German Renaissance. Due to the city's relevance to the Holy Roman Empire, Nuremberg was given a significant role in National Socialist mythology. The city was chosen to be the site of NSDAP conventions – the Nuremberg rallies, and also gave its name to the Nuremberg Race Laws. Today, many examples of Nazi architecture can still be seen in the city. Between 1945 and 1946, German officials involved in war crimes and crimes against humanity were brought before an international tribunal in the Nuremberg trials. Tour of the Documentation Center Reichsparteitagsgelände The Documentation Center Reichsparteitagsgelände is housed in the north wing of the unfinished Congress Hall on the former Nazi Party Rally grounds, designed by the National Socialists to accommodate 50,000 people. The permanent exhibition 'Fascination and Terror' deals with the causes, contexts, and consequences of the National Socialist tyranny. The focus of the exhibition is the history of the Nazi Party Rallies, which were used by the National Socialists for propaganda purposes. The exhibition continues outside on the rally grounds, with large panels providing supplementary information on the history of the individual buildings. Regular special exhibitions are held in the Documentation Centre. The Educational Forum offers numerous study programs for school classes and youth groups as well as adult groups, providing in-depth insights into various topics of special interest. Travel to Munich
- Day 9: Munich Walking Tour of Munich Munich is the capital and largest city of the German state of Bavaria. It is located on the banks of the River Isar and to the north of the Bavarian Alps. It has a population of around 1.49 million and is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg. The city is home to many national and international authorities, major universities, major museums and theaters. Its numerous architectural attractions, international sports events, exhibitions, conferences and Oktoberfest attract considerable tourism. It is a center of finance, publishing and advanced technologies. Munich is one of the most prosperous and fastest growing cities in Germany, and the seat of numerous corporations and insurance companies. It is a top-ranked destination for migration and expatriate location. Historically, the name 'Munich' comes from the Old High German term Munichen, meaning "by the monks". This is a reference to the monks of the Benedictine order who ran a monastery on the site that was later to become the Old Town of Munich and is also the reason why the city's coat of arms depicts a monk. The first official mention of Munich can be traced back to 1158. From 1255 the city was the seat of the Bavarian Dukes, which shaped the city's history and culture well in to modern times and led to the city becoming a center of arts, culture and science in the early 19th century. In the 20th century, however, Munich also became infamous for darker historical developments. It was the city in which the Nazi movement was founded and began its rise to power and was also the site of the 1972 Summer Olympics and the fatal terrorist attack on Israeli athletes. Tour of the Ohel Jakob Synagogue Visit to the Olympic Site and Guided Tour of the Main Architectural Sights The Olympiastadion München (English: Olympic Stadium Munich) is located in the heart of the Olympiapark München in northern Munich. The stadium was built as the main venue for the 1972 Summer Olympics. The concept of a "green Olympic Games" was chosen in order to show an orientation toward the ideals of democracy. The 1972 Summer Olympics were the second Summer Olympics to be held in Germany, after the 1936 Games in Berlin, which had taken place under the Nazi regime. Mindful of the connection, the West German Government was eager to take the opportunity of the Munich Olympics to present a new, democratic and optimistic Germany to the world, as shown by the Games' official motto "the cheerful Games". The Olympic Games were largely overshadowed by what has come to be known as the "Munich massacre". Just before dawn on September 5, a group of eight members of the Black September Palestinian terrorist organization broke into the Olympic Village and took nine Israeli athletes, coaches and officials hostage in their apartments. During a botched rescue attempt, all of the Israeli hostages were killed. On August 3, 2016, two days prior to the start of the 2016 Summer Olympics, the International Olympic Committee officially honored the eleven Israelis killed for the first time. With an original capacity of 80,000, the stadium also hosted many major football matches including the 1974 World Cup Final and the Euro '88 Final. Until the construction of the Allianz Arena for the 2006 World Cup, the stadium was home to Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 Munich. Concluding Discussion Concluding Dinner